Myth and myth-making

Book chapter


Piccini, Jon. (2020). Myth and myth-making. In In Lewis, Jenny M. and Tiernan, Anne (Ed.). The Oxford handbook of Australian politics pp. 1-19 Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198805465.013.3
AuthorsPiccini, Jon
EditorsLewis, Jenny M. and Tiernan, Anne
Abstract

Modern societies function through a variety of interconnected myths. Stories of who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going next are necessitated by mass society. This chapter contends that Australia myth-making can be helpfully analysed by separately exploring its colonial, nationalist, and modern forms. The first section pieces together how perceptions of Terra Australis as a wild and uncivilized land mass and the myth of a peaceful conquest informed early mythologizing. The expansion of pastoralism in the face of wild nature also informed the birth of Australia’s first national ‘type’, the ‘bushman’. The chapter then turns to twentieth-century myth-making, exploring how the acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps quickly became a noun after the landings at Gallipoli in 1915 were reinterpreted from bloody calamity into a story of national birth. The landings also inaugurated the masculinist mythology of the ‘digger’, which denied the significant role and achievements of women in pre-war politics and society. Egalitarianism, the concept that no man is better than his mate, also became central to Australia’s sense of self in the early twentieth century. The chapter concludes by considering how Australia’s myths have morphed or fossilized as the nation has been dragged into a globalized world and a deregulated economy. It considers Australia’s new-found status as a ‘multicultural success story’, asking just how dead and buried the White Australia policy is, whether concepts of egalitarianism, mateship, and the ‘fair go’ are truly universal, and what, if any, effects the extinguishment of terra nullius has had on the polity.

KeywordsAustralian politics; myth-making; Australian history; masculine mythology; egalitarianism; nationalism; cultural history; Indigenous history; political history; imagined communities
Page range1-19
Year2020
Book titleThe Oxford handbook of Australian politics
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publicationOxford
ISBN9780198805465
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198805465.013.3
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All rights reserved
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Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
OnlineOct 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Jul 2021
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